Courageous Cambodia

After a brief 3 days in Cambodia (Siem Riep & Battambomg), I am feeling very unsure about my impressions of this country. There is no doubt that 3 days is hardly enough to come up with a clear snapshot of Cambodia but I will share what I got out of it in the past few days.

Briefly, my feelings & impressions of Cambodia. I had this idea that Cambodia would be very similar to Thailand (what I know of Thailand) but I was quite surprised by how far behind they are in development and widespread poverty. Really disheartening to know that just a few decades ago, 2 million Khmers were killed by their own people under the leadership of Pol Pot. A communist who wanted to overtake other communist countries by wiping out the educated and wealthy people of Cambodia. Mind boggling, I had no idea how bad the situation was! O_O No wonder the country is so far behind in development with so many of their intellectuals killed during the Khmer Rouge.

With the little interaction I had and observations I made during my visit I must say that the Khmers are very kind, so brave and the people especially the children are beautiful. I felt a strong sense of empathy for the people when traveling in Cambodia and spending time with some locals, bearing in mind the lost they’ve endured. Despite the horror that they’ve experienced, I noticed a strong sense of family and hope in their country which was very nice. Even the people who appear to have “nothing” seem to live quite comfortably with the little they have and have great relationships with their loved ones.

I spent two days in Siem Riep and one in Battambang. Here are some photos from my trip, enjoy!

But first! the night before heading out to Cambodia with Jacqui, Roman and Miina..a few of us decided to have one last big outing since Miina would leave for Finland just after our trip.

BAD BAD idea staying up until the crack of dawn drinking whiskey AND tequila O_O then attempting to pack while still inebriated and catching the 5am, 3rd class…super bumpy train. We definitely paid for it the next day but still managed to make it to Cambodia!!

Will miss you my dear!

Spent an entire day from sunrise to sunset exploring the temples of Angkor. Unfortunately I did not capture the photo I dreamt of during sunrise due to clouds NOR sunset because the sun set on the opposite side….womp womp. But, still amazing nonetheless!


Enjoyed watching the students bicycle to school. Life just seems so, simple.

Ended our evening with a very nice cambo dinner.
Reminisced over a few beers

Nori train ride through the rice fields and villages in Battambang

Brought some candy for the kids at a village in Battambang and hung out with them for a bit. So great to see how much appreciation they have for the smallest things and how charismatic they are. Was the highlight of my trip.
I lost count of how many baguettes I had but it was so nice to have warm baguettes sold everywhere!! Merci francais!

Next up, Vietnam w/ my mom for Tet!


same same, but different

For those of you who has traveled or lived in Thailand…you know that I’m talking about.

“Same same but different!” Definitely a motto that is not only applicable to the chicken skewers that may not actually be chicken in the street stalls, the small t-shirt that is pushed upon you when you asked for a medium, or when you are questioning the authenticity of that Rolex being sold by an Indian guy speaking Thai…”SAME SAME….but different” is what you get.

I would like to apply this motto to myself as well. 2010 has been a year of great personal changes. A year ago I was overly comfortable in my daily routine and just had this ‘idea’ to go abroad….never actually thinking that I’d go through with it because then I’d have to quit my ‘jobs’, actually save some money to foster the trip, and temporarily bid farewell to my “things”, my family, my friends, my dearest boyfriend with whom I spent everyday and just…. my very own microcosm.

Definitely the toughest part about leaving…putting familial obligations behind me, uncertain how this will effect my relationship with Lulu and having NO income. SCARY.

5 months later and I am beyond happy and thankful for this experience, thus far. I have learned so much about myself, made many lifetime friends and maybe even grew up just a little bit along the way.

Still the same Aimi…but different.

I don’t even know where to begin listing all the “firsts” I’ve experience this year so instead I’ll list a few lessons I’ve learned while living & traveling abroad.

1. Loneliness has been a gift in disguise. Being far from home and loved ones has been a huge challenge for me but I’ve learned how to embrace being alone and it’s not as bad as I imagined 😉

2. Traveling on a budget is not as glorious as it seems. Long term travel & living abroad is not always EXTRAORDINARY as most assume, actually after a while everyday is quite ordinary but I’ve learned to appreciate the simpler moments that everyday life offers and this is what keeps me yearning for more!

3. Always be ready for plans to change and be open to adapting! Traveling has forced me to learn constantly. From simple tasks such as memorizing a strange sounding phrase just to order a coffee, grasping new public transportation systems, learning how to use unfamiliar toilets and asking for help by way of body language. Always pushing my comfort levels.

4. A Smile goes a long way. When there is no shared spoken language, a genuine smile really makes a huge difference when engaging with others and even earning one’s trust. 🙂

5. The world really is a good place and the people in it.

6. I am more courageous, stronger & resourceful than I had expected.

7. But, also weaker & more ignorant then I had expected.

8. Learning how to focus on the NOW. Living abroad has given me the opportunity to take a breather from the high intensity, stressful society and instead, learning how to deal with life on a day to day basis.

9. Witnessing something larger than yourself is inspiring, humbling and just plain cool.

10. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Traveling is the great true love of my life.” (sorry lulu), though I’ve been fortunate enough to find a man to call my own. For now, I am just much more turned on by the thought of stuffing my face with ayam percik in Kota Bahru, playing pool with beautiful Khmer children in Battabong, motorbiking through lush jungles in Koh Phangnan, bargain shopping at a night market in Chiang Mai using some new Thai words I’ve just picked up and getting lost on a local bus in Bangkok.

Above all, I’ve learned so much more about myself as a human being, my boundaries and what captivates me. I look forward to 5 more months of adventures, excitement, new cuisines, friends and further cultural immersion.

Thank you 2010 for all the great memories! Welcome 2011 !!

Some of of my favorite moments in 2010

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